Wednesday, November 30, 2011

News: Drayton announces seasons

Drayton's present production of The Wizard of Oz at St. Jacob 
Country Playhouse

One of the most vast arts organizations in the country, Drayton Entertainment, has announced its lineup for 2011. Among the many works playing Drayton's many venues are plays by Norm Foster, musicals, and classic light entertainment.

Press release:

Review: (Ottawa) I Hate Hamlet

A Night of Ghosts and Traditions
by Jim Murchison
This is my first review at the Ottawa Little Theatre so that, in itself, warrants a few words. There are few theatres these days that have the sense of long time tradition that you feel when you enter the Ottawa Little Theatre, mainly because most theatres are too young. Photos of past portrayals shot in the 1930’s by Yousuf Karsh adorn the downstairs lobby. Résumé pictures of alumnae such as Dan Akroyd and Rich Little wrap the walls in the upstairs lobby. 

CPC's Video of the Week, November 30, 2011

A look at MAP Project's approach to the personal
via the popular

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After Dark, November 29, 2011

Come Blow Your Horn
CharPo celebrates
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of The Charlebois Post. Last November 30, I responded to a personal attack by a theatre journalist on colleagues of mine (who were doing volunteer work for the theatre community) by filling a void I felt existed in Montreal theatre coverage.

Monday, November 28, 2011

News: (Ottawa) Critics Circle hands out prizes

Among the winners at this evening's conferral of awards by the Capital Critics Circle in Ottawa was the out-going artistic director of the National Arts Centre English Theatre, Peter Hinton.

Openings We're Tracking This Week, November 28-December 4, 2011

Against the Grain's Bohème

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Abominable Showman, November 27, 2011

Harvey Fierstein (photo: David Shankbone)

La Cage aux Folles
Bugs goes down on theatre legend Harvey Fierstein at The Vancouver Playhouse – and dishes with Felice Picano, John Waters and Scott Capurro. Plus L’Opera de Montreal’s 16th annual Gala goes uptown.
by Richard Burnett

Lord knows how many times I’ve (unsuccessfully) requested an interview with Harvey Fierstein, but I know many folks who’ve met and worked with the theatre legend over the years. And I’ve heard mostly good stuff for which I’m happy because the gravel-voiced actor is something of an icon not just in theatre circles, but in the gay community where his work – from Torch Song Trilogy to his adaptation of La Cage aux Folles on Broadway – have helped advance the cause of gay civil rights across North America.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: (Toronto) Red

Jim Mezon (photo credit: Bruce Zinger)
Rothko’s Rage...
...Charlebois's dilemma
by Émilie Charlebois

Notwithstanding my own impressions of Kim Collier’s production of “Red” I think the audience’s reaction deserves to be noted and taken into account. Although the comedy wasn’t to my taste, laughs were heard throughout, and while I’m not a fan, it was given a standing ovation. So take what you may from what follows.

Theatre For Thought, November 26, 2011

Ana (photo: Tristan Brand)

It would be ideal if more companies reallocated their funds to allow for a greater integration of design and narrative.
joel fishbane

It’s November’s end and in Montreal that means there’s one last gasp from the theatre world before we all shut down for the holidays. It’s shaping up to be quite the gasp with offerings from Porte Parole, Sidemart Theatrical Grocery and Centaur’s annual Urban Tales. Then there’s Imago Theatre’s latest offering, the eclectic Ana, a bilingual co-production written by Clare Duffy and Pierre Yves Lemiuex. Most of these shows have more in common than the fact they’re opening during November’s final days: many are a manifestation of theatre’s collaborative nature, a terrific example of the truth that theatre is always created in a crowded room.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: (Toronto) Hallaj

Beatriz Pizano, Stewart Arnott, Carlos González-Vio, Steven Bush, Bahareh Yaraghi (photo: John Lauener) 

The Truth of the Known
You may not agree with Hallaj
by Jessica Wei

Political plays, if done well, are never not tricky. They should have each audience member debating their way out of the theatre, either to each other or in their heads. There should be at least six (6) seconds of, “Hmmm, did I enjoy that? Do I agree with that?” before one makes up their mind about the show they just saw. By all counts, Hallaj is well done. 

The Friday Five, November 25, 2011

Top Five Ways To Promote Your Play
Let's face it, theatre can't compete with videos of cats on the Internet. A thirty second clip of a cat falling asleep has ten million views, and the last theatre show I was in struggled to fill a house of one hundred. Perhaps the problem lies in promotion. Most theatre shows with a small to medium sized budget will do little in the way of advertising, since most of their funds will be spent paying the cast and crew, then burning what remains in a holy effigy to the God of theatre, Ed Mirvish. But fear not! I've compiled a list of five ways to advertise your theatre show without breaking the bank. 
by Kyle Gatehouse of Matt and Kyle and Matt

CharPo's Real Theatre!, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Montreal English Critics Announce Finalists

Best actor finalist, Theodore Bikel (r)
(in Lies My Father Told Me, also a finalist for
best costumes, best lighting, best ensemble)
(photo: Andrée Lanthier)

Review: (Montreal) ANA

Six Annas in search of their mother
By Byron Toben

After the world premiere opening of the wonderful, thought-provoking play ANA at Espace Go, I wisecracked that it should be subtitled Six Annas in Search of their Mother.

Later, reading director Serge Denoncourt's program notes, I was gratified to see that he also paraphrased Pirandello to describe the show. The co-authors, Clare Duffy of Scotland and Pierre Yves Lemieux of Montreal spent three years working up a script based on a concept by Clare Schapiro of Montreal
and Muriel Romanes of Scotland.

CPC's Picture of the Week, November 24, 2011

Costa Tovarnisky, John Ng, Peter Farbridge in Hallaj at Buddies in Bad Times (photo credit: John Lauener) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: (Toronto) Topdog/Underdog

Beyond the merely enjoyable
The beautiful and real Topdog/Underdog
by Jessica Wei

In psychology, Topdog vs. Underdog generally refers to a mind game that people play with themselves as a way of dealing with anxiety. Topdog describes the responsible side of the individual, the voice that drops words like, “should” and “ought” to keep the subject aligned with the norms of society. The  Underdog is the self-protective devil on the left shoulder, making excuses and sabotaging the demands of its opponent. 

First Person: Joel Ivany on Against The Grain Theatre's La Bohème

Lindsay Sutherland Boal and Justin Welsh
(Photo: Gene Wu)

Dreams Greater than One
A collective observes all the rules of opera by breaking them
by Joel Ivany

Against the Grain Theatre is a collective of renegade artists looking to present raw, bare-bones art in the city of Toronto. Last season we presented a production of La Bohème, and it took the scene by storm as a surprise hit. The opera is a timeless work of art; not only does it have incredibly moving music, but the story of young artists struggling through their art and love will move any heart. 

CPC's Video of the Week, November 23, 2011

Terrific timelapse video of the building of the set

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First-Person: Adam Capriolo-Morris on Playing Shylock

(l-r) Anton Golikov and Adam Capriolo-Morris

How I will Interpret the Role of Shylock
A character outline
by Adam Capriolo-Morris
When I was cast as Shylock, I had to decide how to portray him. This role has caused controversy for centuries; depending on how he is portrayed, the tone of the play can change drastically. If he is played as a villainous Jew, the play appears clearly anti-Semitic; the audience feels sympathy for Antonio, the merchant who was threatened by Shylock, and ignores the fact that Antonio had bullied and abused him. 

After Dark, November 22, 2011

Better Mad Than Sad
Sometimes you just need to go on a tear
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

My doctor told me once, "It's better to get mad than sad." He saw that I was going into a darkness when, instead, I should be telling people what was on my mind, or breaking things, or just screaming from time to time. I was amazed by the advice because - since forever - I have not been guarded about my feelings. My writing used to suffer, from time to time, from stating exactly what was on my mind - it was because I believe one thing profoundly: people are too goddam polite.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Person: Chad Dembski on The Farewell Project (Halifax)

Trailer for Farewell Project

A simple performance with epic hopes and dreams
by Chad Dembski

Created and Performed by Dustin Harvey (Secret Theatre, Halifax) and Chad Dembski (Surprise Performance, Montreal)

On an ordinary night, in a place you might pass by everyday, two performers make several attempts at saying goodbye to all the past and future people to leave the city. Using a camera and some really long
cords they transform a public street corner into a live video backdrop, and play with audience participation to illustrate key elements of the performance.  There are also stories about community, about what it means to live in a community, and the ways that choice greatly impacts who we are. They also imagine the place if everyone who left had stayed.

Openings We're Tracking This Week, November 21-27, 2011

Marc Bendavid and Pam Patel in the MTC's R&J
(Photo by Bruce Monk)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Breaking News: John Neville dies

CTV has reported that John Neville, a titan of Canadian theatre, has died. Neville, born in London, England, in 1925 Neville became a well-known director/actor in companies across the country including the National Arts Centre, the Citadel (where he was artistic director from 1973-78) and Neptune (AD from 1978-83) and Stratford (AD 1985-89).

Read his entry in The Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia.

The Abominable Showman, November 20, 2011

Sir Ian McKellan

Gay Old Time
Broadway embraces its gay actors while Hollywood continues to (mostly) shun theirs
by Richard Burnett

The reason why rumours Richard Gere enjoys gerbils up his ass keep dogging the actor after all these years is because Gere not only worked at the Provincetown Playhouse in 1971, but posed for Playgirl (made for girls but "read" by boys) in 1983. Mostly, though, it’s because Gere starred as a gay man interned by the Nazis during World War II in playwright Martin Sherman’s internationally-acclaimed play Bent

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blog: Theatre Night Fever, November 19, 2011

November 19, 2011
For a theatre geek like me, theatre IS cool.
by Howard Dai

Just a few days ago, when I was surfing on Twitter like I always do. I found that I missed a super awesome conference – Making a Scene conference. It’s an annual event put together by GVPTA (Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance), for anyone who’s connected to theatre, whether you’re a performer, a theatre technician, a student, a volunteer, a patron, any kind of artists or a theatre geek just like me. A two-day conference that connects all theatre people with endless topics set by all attendees.

Theatre For Thought, November 19, 2011

I believe that corruption is a systemic problem all over the globe today
joel fishbane

One of my favourite Montreal theatre companies is at it again and it’s not a moment too soon. Hot on the heels of the latest scandals regarding Quebec’s construction industry comes a remount of “Sexy Beton”, Porte Parole’s scathing expose of the shameful behind-the-scenes shenanigans that followed the collapse of the Concorde overpass in Laval. The play will tour Quebec until mid-December and the timing couldn’t be better: just as Jean Charest prepares to launch an investigation, playwright Annabel Soutar is already out there showing him how it’s done. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: (Montreal) The Poster

Jade Hassouné in The Poster
(photo: ADARNA Photography)

The Dangerous Subject of Palestine
No matter what you say...someone will be pissed off
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Like abortion or capital punishment, Middle-East politics, specifically those surrounding Palestine, is a subject you do not discuss lightly. Simply, there are tempers ready to explode on both sides of the issue and a playwright needs to wade into these waters eyes-open, aware of the mines everywhere.

Review: (Montreal) Stori Ya

Warona Setshwaelo (Photo: Jaclyn Turner)

Delightful Nuance
Warona Setshwaelo fills the solo leading BTW's season
by Chris Lane

Stori Ya is a one-woman show, written by Joan M. Kivanda and directed by Millie Tresierra, that is currently being presented at MAI theatre by Black Theatre Workshop. Warona Setshwaelo stars as Maria Msondo, an East African woman whose house in Canada is being repossessed. Setshwaelo spends the play transitioning between her principal character of Maria and a collection of other characters who have helped shape Maria, for better or for worse.

The Friday Five, November 18, 2011

by Matt Raudsepp of Matt and Kyle and Matt

Eloise Tree enters her modest apartment and collapses onto her couch, face first.
Eloise: (muffled) hmmpf mm hmm ab tull!
Eloise spins around and falls into Dr. Gully-Veneer's chest.
Eloise: (muffled) grambbmmm hmmpf yub refwoo!

CharPo's Real Theatre!, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: (Toronto) The Bundle

Bond's Bundle
After some bumps Ryerson pulls the audience in
by Jessica Wei

Captivating, that was Ryerson's production of “The Bundle” by Edward Bond. From the audible gasp from the audience right at the end of the first act straight to curtain call, it was impossible to turn away.

CPC's Picture of the Week, November 17, 2011

The monumental Linda Laplante in
Le Trident's Médée (photo: Vincent Champoux)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog: Critical Condition, November 16, 2011

November 16, 2011
@MargaretAtwood, may I call you Mags, now?

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week I had one of the highpoints of my career. Margaret Atwood retweeted one of my postings on Twitter. I had drawn attention to a terrific article Vanessa Porteous had written for CharPo about an all-female production of Atwood's Penelopiad. Suddenly 276,000 people knew about this terrific article and the web traffic for it exploded and I suddenly had a ton of new followers on Twitter.

CPC's Video of the Week, November 16, 2011

The brilliant Daniel MacIvor in This Is What Happens Next at Citadel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

News: (Ottawa) Opera Lyra cancels two remaining productions

News: GG winners announced

Review: (Toronto) Ride The Cyclone

The Singing Dead
A musical becomes the "It" show of the season
by Beat Rice

Ride the Cyclone, a 2010 SummerWorks hit is back in Toronto. Running in the cavernous space of Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace this explosive musical fills every nook and cranny of the old found space. 

After Dark, November 15, 2011

So...we have to be poor?
A recent music controversy points to problems for us all
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

The band Karkwa is terrific. They're fresh, they're brash and they don't need to prove anything to me.

But last week they learned they had something to prove to their fans: their status as cool and indie. Karwa liscensed a song to Coke and Twitter, Facebook and their web page exploded with rage. They were sell-outs, donchaknow.

If I know anything about mid-range Canadian bands (actors, dancers, singers) is that they are not lighting Cuban cigars with rolled up twenties. They tour hard, they promote hard and they work their asses off to get their music onto a disc or over to iTunes. That Karkwa liscensed a song to a megacompany and made some cha-ching perturbs me not in the least. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: (Toronto) Imprints

TOP TO BOTTOM: Cosette Derome, Conor Green, Kat Sander 
(Photo credit: Michael Cooper)

Provocative Ideas, But...
Gargantua offers a new work at Factory
by Beat Rice

Last week Michael Spence’s play, Imprints, had its world premiere at the Factory Studio Theatre. The play explores the idea of one’s ancestry being passed down in more than just a physical way. That one’s person is made up from all of those that came before them. The idea is really interesting and opens up a lot of points of discussion. Unfortunately the play, directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas, failed to do that. 

Openings We're Tracking This Week, November 14-20, 2011

Adam Charles and Shane Snow in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production 
of Blood Brothers. Photo by David Cooper.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Abominable Showman, November 13, 2011

Galluccio (photo: Ricky Tozzi)

The elephant in the room
Playwright and producer Steve Galluccio takes Quebec and Canadian theatre 39 steps forward, and no steps back
by Richard Burnett

It is one of the world’s most popular plays of the last decade, premiering in the U.K. in 2005 to rave reviews before moving on to Broadway in 2008 where it won a couple of Tony Awards. But I suspect some folks in Quebec’s and English Canada’s theatre communities wish nothing but ill on the new upcoming Montreal French-language adaptation of The 39 Steps, a farce adapted from the 1915 spy novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock.

That’s because playwright, screenwriter and producer Steve Galluccio – along with his 39 Steps production partners, film producer Denise Robert (wife of director Denys Arcand) and Pierre Marchand – have evidently coughed up a good chunk of their own cash (probably in the tens of thousands of dollars) to produce Les 39 marches without one penny of government money. In Quebec and Canadian theatre so dependent on government cash, this is revolutionary (and Mirvish in Toronto doesn’t really count because they only bring in already-established and often Broadway-bound productions).

Profile: Tenor Khachatur Badalyan

Jazzman to Divo....via an invisible gun
Khachatur Badalyan stars in L’Opera de Montréal’s production of Rusalka and follows a long line of great Russian tenors
By Richard Burnett
(performance photos by Michael Daniel of the OdeM/Minnesota Opera production)

Russian tenor Khachatur Badalyan was starring in a production of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin at the Novaya Opera in Moscow in 2007 when in the middle of a scene in the third act everything went horribly wrong. “I had just finished a duet with [the character] Elsa and the bad guy is supposed to kill me with a sword,” Badalyan recalls. “So I’m supposed to grab a gun. But the prop guy forgot to put the gun where it was supposed to be onstage and I kept fumbling around for it. Meanwhile, the bad guy is looking at me like, “Are you going to shoot me or what?’ So I pretended to shoot him with magic. The baritone playing the bad guy just about died and the audience, they – they knew!”

But what a wonderfully long strange trip Badalyan’s career has been so far. In Montreal rehearsing for his starring role in Czech composer Antonín Dvořák’s masterpiece Rusalka being presented by L’Opéra de Montréal, Badalyan says, “I studied since childhood to become a painter and I [had] almost finished the school when I decided to become an economst and even got [that] diploma from university. That’s when I decided to become a singer. In my family we always liked to listen to classical music. So I have always  loved opera. But I never imagined it would become my profession.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review: (Toronto) Macbeth

(l-r) Susan Q Wilson, Claire Acott, Annemieke Wade

The Sound and the Furies
Lighting, sound and the Witches thrive in Hart House’s Macbeth
by Laine Newman

From the first moment of Macbeth, the space is electric. Strobe lights burst across the stage in rushes of lightning with shrill noises rising to a crescendo culminating in deafening silence. 

Lightning flashes and the three weird sisters suddenly appear within a mesmerizing set created by Melanie McNeill. Their haunting eerie voices filling the space. While the three witches (played by Susan Q Wilson, Claire Acott and Annemieke Wade) were captivating in their movement and execution of their lines, the occasional use of amplification and echoes was unnecessary, overpowering scenes that didn’t require the extra trappings.

Review: (Toronto) The Rez Sisters

(l-r) Cara Gee, Pamela Sinha (Photo: Jeremy Mimnagh)

It's about Sisterhood
Factory puts a controversy to rest
by Beat Rice

I now understand why theatre school makes me learn about The Rez Sisters in Canadian Theatre history class. It is indeed a landmark in Canadian theatre. 

First premiering in 1986, Tomson Highway’s play makes a wonderful comeback at the Factory Theatre. The play tells the story of seven women living on a reserve on Manitoulin Island who decide to journey to ‘The Biggest Bingo in the World’ in Toronto. There, they hope to achieve their hopes and dreams by winning $500,000 in prize money. Each character has different plans in life, and we learn about them from their aspirations.